Peacock gives thanks to a turkey: Parade is one saving grace for NBC

What's hokey, full of hot air and increasingly looking like a Thanksgiving miracle for NBC? The network's 61-year old tradition of broadcasting the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The three-hour broadcast remains as popular with viewers as it was in 1991 -- a feat that's remarkably rare among television networks and almost unheard of for NBC these days.

To put that into perspective, NBC currently draws a 4.9 household rating, less than half of the 12.3 rating it enjoyed during the 1991-92 season (before networks started losing viewers in droves to cable and the Internet), according to Nielsen Media Research. NBC now only attracts 5.6 million viewers to its nightly prime-time shows. Yet somehow, the Thanksgiving Day broadcast has managed to hold steady at roughly 20 million viewers annually since 1991, according to Nielsen. Even more intriguing, the rival Thanksgiving broadcast on CBS has shed viewers during the period, falling to about 7 million viewers from 10 million in 1991, Nielsen says.